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Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg meets with unhappy players … again

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For the second week in a row, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg began his Sunday at the ballpark by having a meeting with an unhappy player.

This time, actually, it was two players.

Sandberg spoke separately with Domonic Brown and David Buchanan before Sunday’s 7-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals (see story). Both players had made comments that were interpreted as being critical of the manager after Saturday night’s game.

Buchanan, a 25-year-old rookie who has made 14 starts in the big leagues, was not happy about being lifted after five innings Saturday night.

“I didn’t expect that and I wasn’t too happy about that,” the right-hander said after throwing 90 pitches and allowing eight hits and two runs.

Buchanan met with Sandberg Sunday morning.

“That’s been addressed,” was all Sandberg would say of the meeting.

The manager also spoke with Brown, who insinuated that his recent decline in playing time contributed to his inability to make a catch in left field Saturday night. That play was followed by Brown’s making a throwing error that led to a run.

“I had a conversation with him on that,” Sandberg said of Brown’s comments. “It was more frustration than anything.”

Brown was back in the lineup Sunday for the ninth time in the last 14 games. He went 1 for 4 with a run scored.

Brown has lost some playing time to Darin Ruf and Grady Sizemore. But Brown has made it easy for Sandberg to sit him by playing shaky defense and hitting just .226 with a .611 OPS for the season.

“I have no beef with Ryno; everything is good,” Brown said after Sunday’s game. “We talked. He just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page and we are. Everything is good. Ryno’s doing a great job.”

Brown did indicate that he’s frustrated.

“I just want to play,” he said. “That’s it. Ryno knows that. It’s tough on him. Grady has been swinging the bat well and Ruf has to play as well. It’s tough for him right now.

“I want to play. I want to be out there. I don’t want days off. I’m not used to that.”

Brown can cure his frustration and get more playing time simply by playing better. The Phillies have given ample time to nail down an outfield job. He could be a fixture in the lineup for years if he would simply produce consistently. The Phillies would like that to happen. It hasn’t and that’s why the team is taking a look at other players.

The comments made by Buchanan and Brown were not the first affronts made against Sandberg’s authority in recent days. A week ago, pitcher Kyle Kendrick showed up Sandberg on the pitcher’s mound in San Francisco. Sandberg met with Kendrick the day after and Kendrick apologized for his actions (see story).

Are these affronts merely the product of a long and frustrating season or does Sandberg have an authority issue with this club?

This is certainly something to keep an eye on as the rest of this season plays out.

Red Sox could go to arbitration hearing with Fernando Abad

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Fernando Abad #58 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the New York Yankees during the ninth inning at Fenway Park on September 16, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox are expecting to go to an arbitration hearing with left-handed reliever Fernando Abad, per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski said there was a “decent chance” a hearing would be necessary after countering Abad’s $2.7 million request with $2 million.

Abad, 31, pitched just 12 2/3 innings for Boston after the club acquired him from Minnesota at the trade deadline last season. The lefty earned a cumulative 3.66 ERA, 4.2 BB/9 and 7.9 SO/9 for the two teams in 2016. He received $1.25 million in 2016 and will remain under club control (through arbitration) in 2017. A $2.7 million salary would be a hefty increase for the veteran reliever, who has seen a significant decline since he put up a 1.57 ERA for the Athletics in 2014 and who has not amassed more than 0.6 fWAR in any single season to date.

While the Red Sox aren’t close to settling with Abad, Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports that they may be closing in on a settlement with left-handed starter Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz filed at $5.7 million, while the Sox felt more comfortable at $3.6 million. The two are expected to meet somewhere in the middle to avoid an arbitration hearing later this winter.

Report: Braves sign Kurt Suzuki

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 20: Kurt Suzuki #8 of the Minnesota Twins hits against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.

Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.

The team has yet to confirm the deal.